The Paragon Hotel

The Paragon Hotel

Book - 2019
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1921. "Nobody" Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Her sights are set on Oregon: the end of the line. She befriends Max, a black Pullman porter, who leads her to Portland's Paragon Hotel. It's the only all-black hotel in the city, and its lodgers seem unduly terrified of a white woman on the premises. She meets the churlish Dr. Pendleton, the stately Mavereen, and club chanteuse Blossom Fontaine. But the Ku Klux Klan has arrived in Portland, burning crosses, inciting violence, electing officials, and brutalizing blacks. And only the residents of the Paragon are willing to search for a missing mulatto child who vanished into the Oregon woods.
Publisher: New York : G. P. Putnams Sons, [2019].
ISBN: 9780735210752
Characteristics: 422 pages ; 24 cm.


From Library Staff

"It's 1921, and "Nobody" Alice James is racing by rail as far from New York as possible, finally landing at the only all-black hotel in Portland, OR. Residents are understandably suspicious of this white woman--the Ku Klux Klan is in town."

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Sep 21, 2020

Same author of Jane Steele

JCLS_Ashland_Kristin Nov 14, 2019

A gritty look at 1920s Portland and the consequences of racial exclusion laws that have ramifications into the present day. A tragedy wrapped in a mystery...with a glimmer of hope at the end. <3

Jul 24, 2019

I loved this book!

JessicaGma Jul 05, 2019

A very good novel set in the 1920s in Oregon (of all places! how delightful!) where Alice stays at a hotel for black people, which ruffles feathers in many communities. There's fantastic characters, good action, and cracking dialogue. This is a real treat!

May 12, 2019

I finished this book, but it took me longer than I had hoped. I was interested in the history of racism in Oregon. But I was hung up on the language of the narrator's voice. She used so much flapper lingo that it I found it jarring and it took me out of the story. The plot was rich and rewarding, however.

Apr 20, 2019

The Paragon Hotel is about a young woman on the run from her past who takes the train from New York to Portland with 2 bullets in her. An African American porter sees that she needs help and takes her to a "blacks only" hotel that he knows about in Portland where she can get treated on the down low. The only problem is that she's white, and apparently Portland is super racist. In between chapters Faye teaches us about Portland and Oregon's racist past. For example, African Americans by law were not allowed to settle in Oregon between 1844 and the end of the Civil War, and Oregon today only has a 2% African American population. Anyway, in the novel, the KKK has come to town, and although their rhetoric is "America first" it has the non-white population on edge. Meanwhile Alice James, our heroine, is recuperating at the Paragon Hotel and making friends with some of the inhabitants. We gradually learn her backstory and there's a missing persons case that has everyone upset. What is really going on?

This was really good. I liked all the storylines set in Portland. For me the New York storyline was by far the weakest, and I could have lived without it. The characters are great. I can tell that Lyndsay Faye cares about her characters and wants us to think about what kind of world we want to live in, and that's the kind of book by the kind of author that I want to read.

Mar 14, 2019

This story is driven by witty, sharp dialogue from the most colourful characters. I found this book to be very entertaining and historically interesting.

Mar 04, 2019

The tone is just right in this noir novel of the 1920s. In Italian Harlem, Alicia James is born in a brothel to Welsh Caitlin James and an Italian father whose name her mother will never reveal. They live in poverty but Alicia runs the streets with her best friend Nicolo. By the time she's in her mid teens she's acquired the nickname "Nobody," because she can fade into the background. But as she approaches puberty, her mother's landlord's sold her maidenhead, such as it is. On the very night that Nicolo's father is killed by the Mafia, Nobody decides to go over to another Mafia gang, the leader of which makes her great promises. She lives in his posh hotel, spying on Nicolo's gang. In spite of the love between her and Nicolo, this decision gains her an attempted killing, and a promise from a crooked cop that he'll find a body to bury in her place--she needs to get out of town, and quick. He gets her to Grand Central and put on a train headed to Portland, OR. She meets George the porter (all porters are named George) who realizes that she's very ill from fever from her wounds, and takes good care of her. He even takes her to the Portland hotel where he lives. It turns out to be as ritzy as the one she lived in in Harlem, the only difference being it's denizens are all Negroes, and they don't want this white woman around learning their secrets. One of those is that a six year old mulatto boy, the darling of the place, lives there and shortly disappears. Alice tries to help find him, as she's fallen in love with him too. She's also fallen in love with George, whose real name is Max. He falls for her too, but with the KKK patrolling the streets of Portland, is more realistic about their prospects. Besides, he has a pair of twins back in Brooklyn. A complex, light hearted, yet very serious look at what life was like for African Americans in the Jazz Age, during Prohibition.

DCLadults Feb 13, 2019

A New & Noteworthy pick. Meet the quirky characters of the Paragon Hotel. Alice is fleeing New York City for her life and ends up at the Paragon Hotel. This historical novel simmers with the unexpected racist history of Portland, Oregon, in the 1920s.

Jan 26, 2019

This historical novel set in the 1920s has a lot going on: Prohibition and Mafia violence in Harlem, extreme racism and the rise of the KKK in Portland, Oregon, and even LGBT issues - but it all works. The novel has a few mysteries in it as well, which keeps the reader engaged.

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